Belize City Cruises

A Central American country, located between Mexico and Guatemala, Belize has a variety of Caribbean islands including St.George's Caye (the site of the 1798 battle during which the British defeated the Spanish and laid claim to Belize), Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker both of which lie within the Belize Barrier Reef -- the largest tropical reef in our hemisphere, famous for the Great Blue Hole, which beckons divers from around the world. The barrier reef, while the top reason for many travelers to visit Belize, is not the only one. Others include Mayan ruins (some excavated, others still jungle-covered) and a tropical rainforest inhabited by many species of birds.

Popular excursions sold onboard cruise ships include diving and snorkeling tours, excursions to the Mayan temples of Altun Ha (where a jade head was discovered), bird watching treks, zip-lining adventures over the jungle canopy, and refreshing river kayaking and cave tubing.

Cruise ships call at Belize City on Western Caribbean itineraries. Belize City is a predominantly Creole city with a population of less than 80,000. It is the largest city in Belize, formerly the country's capital, present commercial hub and gateway for cruise passengers.

Highlights of Belize City include the 19th and early 20th century buildings and houses with wrap-around verandas, painted shutters and Victorian-style woodwork on the North Shore, in the Fort George area. The Fort George Lighthouse and Bliss Memorial (named for English nobleman benefactor, Baron Bliss, who is buried here) is a good photo-op -- as the Lighthouse towers over the Caribbean Sea (the Lighthouse, however, cannot be entered). The House of Culture (formerly Government House) on Regent Street is Belize City's foremost colonial structure -- it is said to have been designed by noted British architect Sir Christopher Wren and dating from the 19th century. Queen Elizabeth stayed here during a visit in 1985.

St. John's Cathedral on Albert Street is reportedly the oldest in Central America -- four kings of the Mosquito Coast, a British protectorate along the coast of Honduras and Nicaragua were crowned here in the 19th century. The Museum of Belize on Gabourel Lane in the Fort George area used to be a city jail and now offers exhibits including Mayan artifacts.

The Belize Zoo, about 30 miles west of Belize City, is a 29-acre facility showcasing 125 native species including black and spotted jaguars.